Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Passed By State House

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Horse tracks like Keeneland would be licensees under a Kentucky sports betting bill (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Legal sports betting in Kentucky is closer than ever after a bill to allow both in-person and online sportsbooks tied to horse tracks advanced to the state Senate. 

The Kentucky House of Representatives today voted 58-30 in favor of the bill (House Bill 606) sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), a longtime sports betting proponent and House gaming issues chair.

Koenig  said HB 606 will bring sports betting “out of the shadows” and into a regulated market where it could generate at least $22.5 million in new state tax revenue each year. 

“I think it’s important …. to dry up the black market and make sure that the people of this state have the benefits of their government protecting them,” Koenig told his House colleagues. By some estimates, he said, as much as $2 billion is wagered illegally on sports in Kentucky each year.

The vote signals the first time any Kentucky sports betting bill has moved beyond the state House or Senate.

Koenig and Rep. Alan Gentry (D-Louisville), the bill’s primary co-sponsor, have attempted for years to get similar legislation through the Kentucky General Assembly. The legislation made it out of committee twice before, only to stall in the House. 

Today’s bipartisan “yes” vote indicates 2022 might be different.

What Would Kentucky Sports Betting Look Like Under HB 606?

HB 606 would allow Kentucky’s licensed horse tracks, including Churchill Downs and Keeneland, to partner with a mobile sports betting operator such as DraftKings, FanDuel, or Caesars. Betting would be allowed online anywhere in the state.

Licensees would also be allowed to offer in-person sports betting at their horse tracks and two other track-owned facilities – such as a gaming hall or simulcast facility — through sportsbooks licensed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC).  

That could mean in-person sports betting at Derby City Gaming or Newport Racing and Gaming, which offer historical horse racing and simulcasting for Churchill Downs Inc. Derby City Gaming is in Louisville, and Newport Racing and Gaming is in Newport near Cincinnati. 

Bettors would be allowed to place wagers on professional, international, and college sports, with no exclusion for in-state college sports, although the KHRC would have the final say on what types of bets are allowed and on which sports bets could be placed. 

Revenue would be taxed at 9.75 percent for in-person wagering and 14.25 percent for online and mobile bets. Tracks would also have to pay an initial fee of $500,000 for a sports betting licensing, renewable each year for $50,000. 

Fantasy sports and online poker would also be legalized in the Bluegrass State under the bill. 

When Could Sports Betting Become Legal In Kentucky? 

HB 606 now goes to the Kentucky Senate for consideration. The Senate has a handful of “legislative” days – not calendar days – to pass the bill and get it to Gov. Andy Beshear before the current legislative session ends on April 14. 

The sports betting proposal in HB 606 would take effect this year, should it become law. 

That could put sportsbooks live by mid-summer in the Bluegrass State. 

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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